Hyundai has issued another recall, due to yet another problem that can easily cause either fire or car failure. This is one of the problems that have bedeviled the company for about 3 years now, affecting at least six million of its vehicles. The latest problem involves premature ignition of fuel in the cylinders, something that can lead to excessive pressure and engine damage.
This either causes the engine to stall or, worse still, catch fire. This is according to documents by Hyundai obtained by the U.S National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Of its brands in Canada and the US, Veloster cars are the most affected, with about 20,000 expected in the recall.
The Korean automaker and its affiliate, Kia's cars have been plagued by different problems since 2015, including fires and engine failure. However, the latest problem is quite different from the others.
According to Michael Stewart, Hyundai's Spokesman, the recall only affects the 2013 Veloster that runs on a 1.6-liter engine. He says the problem is to do with a software fault only associated with the model of that year, and not in any other engines.
In a quick rejoinder, James Bell, the Kia spokesman, clarified that Kia never used engines from the company responsible for making Veloster engines.
Kia's February recall targeted 379,000 Soul SUV vehicles from 2012 to 2016 for engine failure and fire problems. However, according to Stewart, this was for a completely different issue from the Veloster.
The latest recall is as a result of a petition by the Center for Auto Safety, which has petitioned the government to put pressure on Hyundai and Kia for more recalls. According to Jason Levine, the group's executive director, the engine and fire problems are not limited to the affected vehicles. Instead, they keep spreading to others.
"The recall begs the question whether these non crash fires affecting vehicles from both manufacturers are a sign that we are far above the tip of the iceberg, " Lavine said. "Why should we keep hearing from either of the two companies that the problems are unique to specific models, only for another recall or fire incident to follow just weeks or after only a few months?"
In its documents, Hyundai claims that it has been carrying out analysis of fire claims from car owners, reporting its findings to NHTSA, which had raised concerns about Veloster in December. According to the documents, the analysis traced the issue to an engine control software in its vehicles manufactured at its Korean plant at Ulsan from 26 April 2012 to 16 October 2013.
The company says in its documents that claims for the 2013 model were high, but the drastically dropped for subsequent models. It also claims to have updated the software on vehicles at the plant in October 2013. However, it denies knowledge of any car crashes or injuries.
Dealers are advising customers to return their cars, even if long out of warranty, to their nearest dealership for repairs, and not to rely upon repairs by other parties using the Hyundai workshop manual.
Dealers are expected to install the updated software on all recalled cars, after which owners will receiving communication to that effect as from 13 May. NHTSA has put pressure on the two automakers to hasten correction of faulty cars.
In total, both Hyundai and Kia have recalled over 2.4 million cars for software upgrades. At least 3.7 million others will be fitted with engine fire detection and alert software.